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To finally feel alive again
Now this email is gonna be one for the books fr (and may even be a book like). I had my first vending gig and this is gonna b a walk through of how that went but F I R S T - - -
I refigured my website! And my prints are live thru my website now too! Use the code “RAZDOESNEWSLETTER” for 20% off prints(valid until sept 30)! and if you are interested in a physical piece, contact me through the website! or j dm/email idc rly its j cooler (I have a fun announcement at the end of the email thats holding back the online store rn)
now back to the story (a doozy fr like make some tea or sit outside cuz this one…)- - -
the whole month of august I was trying to crank out some pieces. I used to make a full sized piece in a week, but now I could barely work on something for more than 4 hours. My attention span has been hit, and general life exhaustion has been against me for months now. This felt like a break from the monotony of posting online. I tried a new style, and experimented with mediums again, hoping to make my breakout piece yet again. All while being haunted by the daunting task of staying online and making my social media content. I selected my pieces, oldest one being from 2021, and went on to varnishing. I was seeing some damage from the roadtrips to and from Utah showing up in my pieces, and prayed nobody else would. I found a good pricepoint, took photos, and left them as I went on a trip with my family, where I would return a day before the show.
The whole trip, I was between serene and stressed, with a tension that I didn’t realize was excitement. I was revamping my whole website, from giving it a clear header to building it a solid footer. I finally put myself on there. I do plan on being a global name in the art world, and people will know who I am eventually, but I figured I could have them know me now too. Updated my portfolio layout, to hopefully put everything together for easy perusing. I decided it’s time that people contacted me, so I put a contact page, and even added some easter eggs to my About page.
And then came the dreaded store page. I’ve sold prints through external websites, and have sold NFTs on different platforms, and I’ve sold pieces and shipped them privately as well. But now I had to bring it all together. I am absolutely worried about the accountability of having this power. I would have to resolve the issues that I didn’t know exist, which has been a huge fear with my website. Managing payments is also scary, but mostly for the tax part. While I love money, the IRS is the home-wrecker I can only fear. And figuring out an automated shipping was way too much math for a brain with only a right side.
But I found my left brain, and did as much as I could. And I could not finish in time. As I got home at 3pm, I had 6 hours left before I went to set up my pieces for the show the next day. I got to hammering. I have been using a new wall hanger on the back of my pieces, but the nails stopped just short of breaking through to the front of the piece. I was patiently tapping, to solidly pounding the small, 1/3 inch nails into the wood and hanger. Praying not to dent the wood, or crush a thumb. Four pieces were down. I went to the local coffee shop and got to typing. Price tags and contact info for all 12 of the pieces I had, which took about an hour. I then scour the city for printer ink, more nails and hangers, and my dinner. I get home to feast on some takeout, and then prep for delivery.
But as I am eating I find no appetite. I start to realize what was happening to my body, as the slight moment of peace finally came to me. A wave of exhaustion from the day drifted over me. I had been cold all day, thinking it was just the AC, but ignoring the fact I just hadn’t ate or drank water. I hadn’t stopped moving all day. My vision was going blurry. There was a lightness in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. It felt like there was an intention that was steps in front of who I actually was, and I could only reach it by blindly moving forward. Alas, there was no time for feelings, as I had thirty minutes left to print out the labels and pack my pieces for my show.
9:15 PM and I get on the road. Set up was starting at 9:30 but it was 30 minutes away. I drive, and feel every emotion on the way. Excitement, nervousness, fear, joy, anxiety, thrill, hot, cold, colder. Life didn’t flash before my eyes, but my future did. Is this an option for me? Can I make it? Is this the moment? Will I make a sale? Can I find a community? I was chugging water on the drive there, as the traffic around DC doesn’t stop after 6PM. I drove east, with a full moon literally lighting my path towards the show, the Northside Social Coffee and Wine Bar. I visited the venue once before, and through the dark of the night I have arrived.
I thought I would park in the back, but this time there was street parking. The venue looked larger at night, I thought, as I take my box of art and hanging supplies out of my car. The venue also looked bigger. And I didn’t notice the patio before. There were people still there, who I assume were the artist. I walk up to the steps until I realize that there were no steps when I visited. Illuminated by moonlight, it dawned on me.
I went to the wrong venue. In a That’s So Raven flashback, I remember that there were two venues owned by Northside Social. And the other was a quick city away. While contemplating to drive home, I punched in the address again. 10:15, with only 15 minutes to set up, I arrive at the right place. The Northside Social without a patio, with a smaller venue, and with parking in the back. Last sip of water, and my final attempt to wipe the slight blur from my eyes. I walk in and find the person running the show. After a half second introduction, I go upstairs to set my pieces up. I meet another artist, who was the only artist left at the venue. We have our banter, we set up our pieces. He’s a regular at the place, and was close with the person running the show, and they both give me a primer of who would show up and how its usually ran. I leave at 10:35, with my pieces hanging, and I head home to finish up some pieces I planned on taking tomorrow.
Tomorrow rolls around, and I get to printing things again. I hauled ass to Michaels Arts and Crafts store, as I realized I would need a bag for people to hold the pieces. I go purchase all that, and then return home only to realize I have ran out of wall hangers. I bought the part to attach to my piece, but not the one to attach to the wall. I come home to finish hammering the hangers into my pieces. While I wanted to use my website to sell my pieces, I had bought a Square card reader earlier and decided that was the way to go; the setup was easier and I didn’t have to worry about my laptop. I print my pricetags, and start packing. I only had 30 minutes to print and eat before I would go. It’s 4PM, and I head out to the show. It starts at 5, and my setup was easy.
I drive, but today was more calm. It was still a rush, but more of a calmer flow. I was thinking of how this would be cool to write about in my newsletter. The thrill of the show. And as I think of how it would go, I find that the parkway, which was a straight shot to the venue, was closed for repairs. I had to reroute through DC.
It was a combination of narrow roads, traffic, and the general stress of driving through DC, that kept pushing against me. Amaarae’s last album was on repeat the whole ride. 4:30 passes. Then 4:45 passes. Then 4:55 passes. And I am finally parked at the show, at 4:58. One day I will hit my deadlines like Raz Does Art, but until then, I will arrive as Faraz.
After finding the person running the show, I set up my outdoor table. Theres a little placard with my name on it, and I open my box. I introduce myself to the table next to me. Her name is Ann Farley (@afarleyart), a collage artist who recently moved into the area from Maryland’s Easter Shore. She became my rock that night, as we got to chatting and knowing eachother. It was her first show since the start of the pandemic, and she was as nervous as I was. It helped break the ice though, and we helped each other take pictures and set up our tables. We had a hanging light cut right over our heads at the venue. After setting up, I take a seat.
I had some canvas cloth left from my recent experiments which became a table cloth. I laid out four of my pieces, with name tags beneath them. I had my business cards to the right, my sketchbook in front of me, my Square card reader on my left, and a box of my other pieces under the table. It finally began.
Or at least the live music began. And so did sunset. This combination lead me to being effectively flashbanged for an hour. Even after I asked Ann if she could watch my table so I could get my sunglasses, I could not see from the sun that was peering through the buildings onto my ever extending forehead. I dont know who I was talking to for the first hour, or if I was even heard. I think I mostly just said thank you to those complimenting, trying to figure out if their silhouette was looking at me or my art. Unsure of if I was being spoken too, I feel like I was just talking to the music around me. 80s throwbacks specifically (which is fine but the sounds of the 80s do not ask questions about my art).
The sun set a bit and I got my composure up again - I’m hitting my pitch more:
“Hello, my name is Faraz and I am a wood based relief sculptor! I have been sculpting when I was 10 but I found this medium 3 years ago, as I was able to sculpt from my apartment. My work revolves around my personal experiences and commentary on social politics. If you have any questions feel free to ask!”
A few people stopped to chat. “I saw your work inside it was beautiful!” “Wow you did this?” “How did you make this?” “This is seriously so cool!” “Is this part burned?” “Did you use a machine?” All of it was praise to me, which I very much appreciated. A nice lady came by, an eclectic type who looked like she thrives at an art fair.
We get to chatting. She loves my work, and I get a small prickling feeling in the back of my neck. I’m thinking of getting my first sale. I’m thinking of making back all the costs of the show. And we still get to chatting. She talks a bit about herself, and then about her recent trip to Denmark. And she chatted. And chatted. And chatted. It really was an interesting talk though. I do want to travel more as an artist, and hearing about people’s travels do make me want to see the world more. Her highlight was the cooking classes she took (jumpscare), and her ability to bike through the country. But she talked about this for an hour. Which was the only issue of this. People kept passing by and I gave them a quick hi and hello before I was being shown pictures from her trip. A few stopped, and the lady did give very public praise in an attempt to help make a sale. Through our conversation I felt like she knew others were trying to see the works, but I also felt like she had few people to talk about her trip with.
The conversation ends with Ann, my savior, asking me for help on a transaction. “I thought you might’ve needed some help”. And that I did. I stand around trying to help as I say a quick goodbye with the lady as she takes one of my business cards. “I hope you can sell some pieces tonight!” she said as she left. I know she has a pure heart, and I was genuinely curious about her travels, but it was just the wrong place and time for that conversation. I was hoping for a sale too, but 30 minutes in, as she was talking about her in-law working who just left the Bureau of Land Management that she wasn’t the one.
She leaves, and I am seated. It’s been 2 hours into the show with 2 hours left. A wave of sadness hits me. I still haven’t made a sale. My social battery is drained. I am tired. I don’t know if I should rotate out my pieces or if I should keep the same ones out. I meander to my backpack after thinking I’m probably just hungry. I pick up a nutrigrain bar I was saving and Ann said to just get real food (thank you ann). I order, and just kinda stare off. I say my pitch when people come by, and hand off a business card. An eager looking fella asked if I do commissions, and I said no, but send me your idea anyways and we could chat. He picks up a business card saying to expect and email (which I still haven’t received).
7:45 and the food comes around. I ate. And I was sad just because I was hungry. Which was a relief. People start coming over again, and every bite is interrupted by a question. It was a Mercury Retrograde so I was expecting challenges. So I talked between bites, trying not to spit some sandwich on a new fan. A friend of my mom comes by, and we chat a bit. She was in the area and wanted to see what I had. As others come by, she helps my pitch by gassing up some of my pieces. “You have never seen like this ever!” she said with a light persian accent dancing through the sentence. As she left, the show starts to wind down. While I was defeated, I tried taking it in stride. I didn’t think I would sell going into the show, but the confirmation was still disheartening.
So I start meeting the other vendors. Painters, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelry, and more. There were around a dozen vendors, and I met a few. I actually got invited to a local art gathering thing to just hang out and meet other artists which was a very good moment of the night. The painter, Amanda, (@amanda.lin.art) and I got to chatting about pitching our pieces before we really got into it, where we just talked about ourselves and who we were. By the end of our talk, she invited me to some events she holds every few weeks. I’m excited to go, but I’ve just been busy and drained since then. As we wrap up our chat, she heads out.
And I run into a highschool friend. It blew me away. After 6 years of only seeing each other online, we reunited haphazardly. He was inside, trying to find his friend he met the day before. Except his friend, the very same Amanda, was talking to me at the time, and she left after she invited me to her events. He saw my work upstairs and then DM’ed me, but ran into me before I saw my phone. Seeing someone after so long really made the night. We caught up a bit - as much as we could in our excited states - and I gave him a quick walk through of my pieces as he was telling me about what was going on. We talked about meeting again, and its most definitely happening once theres another artist event coming up. He also reconnected me with an art teacher from Highschool.
And before I left, I chatted with the ceramicist at the far end of the venue. @wareclay was an artist who was making a living off of these art fairs and I knew she could give me some advice. We chatted a bit and I got some general artist advice, but she really told me what I needed to do to make sales: Flood the table with work, more pricepoint variations, more variety of things, and just more in general. She left me with a key sentence: “Some people are creators. Other people are makers. Me, I am a maker”. To make art for these fairs, you need more quantity over quality. It’s not as much about exploring the soul through creation, but more about the sheer enjoyment of manufacturing the art.
I still think about that, to be a creator vs a maker. Im gonna try to be a maker for a while, as I start to pack my things. I say my goodbyes, and put everything back into my box and slightly torn backpack. Meeting art people has been a goal of mine for a long time, and this was that. It started as a potential stream of income, but ended as a networking event.
Overall, 6/10, the first time is always awkward, but now I know what I am doing. My next vending event is on the 30th, at an art fair near Baltimore. The time between them feels quick, but a lot had happened since then. Alas, we move.
ps. this was long as hell omg go outside and drink some water like this was insane. U need the attention span of a god to have read this in one go ur so brave ty bb xoxo
im heading straight to the sub link yall better look tho
atp u gotta b subbed here like this was a legit chunk of ur hour